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If there’s ever a situation that calls for a good microphone, it’s recording an interview. While pretty much any recording situation needs quality sound, filming or recording audio for an interview is particularly important because the quality of the audio is what sells the whole package. In this guide to the best microphone for interviews, we’ll explain why good microphones are so important, and which model you should pick for your work.
Many an interview has unfortunately been ruined by bad audio. Microphone pops, handling noise, and the dreaded background rumble of traffic or footsteps or outside conversations all play a role in muddying what would otherwise have been a quality interview. That’s why videographers, documentary filmmakers, broadcasters, and reporters are all particular about what microphones to invest in.
There are several different options for interview microphones, and the type you pick is dependent on the kind of interview you’re more likely to do. Lavalier microphones are clipped onto the speaker’s clothing, and are a portable and convenient way to capture sound close to the source. Shotgun microphones meanwhile are often set up out of camera, and best for capturing sound without fear of handling noise. Finally, handheld microphones are of course held or set up near the speakers, and can record one or multiple speakers at the same time depending on the polar pattern.
Below, we’ll go over a few of our top options for these three different microphones. Whether you’re a more experienced professional looking to upgrade your kit, or an amateur working off a tight budget, take a look at our list of some of the best interview mics available on the market today.
The Sennheiser MKH 416 is called the industry standard in film and television work for a reason. With a supercardioid polar pattern that performs excellently at rejecting background noise, it’s the top choice for anyone working with film and audio.
It’s designed to capture the human voice with clarity and richness, without picking up on pesky plosives or pops, which is part of what makes it so popular with filmmakers and interviewers. If you need a microphone that can record your interviewee’s voices with detail without looking disruptive on camera, the MKH 416 is what you need. And while it can be a pretty pricey choice, one session with this microphone will prove exactly why it’s such a winner.
The first thing you’ll need to pay attention to when picking a microphone for interviews is the polar pattern. While there’s certainly a lot more flexibility when it comes to polar patterns for interview microphones, in general you’re going to want a polar pattern that allows for better focus on your interviewee.
Popular polar patterns for interview microphones include supercardioid, cardioid, and in some cases even omnidirectional. It all depends on what kind of microphone you’re going to use for recording, and where you’re going to be recording.
With a supercardioid microphone, you’ll have better directionality on a single sound source, but might miss out on other speakers if you’re interviewing more than one. And an omnidirectional pattern might capture too wide a field if you’re in a busy restaurant, but work great for recording two or more speakers.
The next thing you’ll want to pay attention to is frequency response. Frequency response determines whether your microphone is able to capture the sound you need with the correct tone and detail. Most microphones are already designed to record the human voice, which is at around 85 to 155 Hz for a typical adult male and 165 to 255 Hz for a typical adult female.
You should definitely pay attention to how the response varies within the given range of your microphone. If your focus is on recording speech rather than singing, you’ll have a bit more leeway in terms of range. The end goal is to find a microphone that creates a rich, flattering sound that can add life to your interview recordings.
Finally, if you’re looking for the perfect interview microphone then you’ll definitely need to pay attention to noise rejection. Recording an interview is all about focusing on your interviewee’s voice. Unlike other recording situations, where things like instrumentals or video might be just as crucial, in interviews what your interviewee says is the entire point of the recording process.
Thus, capturing it in flattering detail and quality so that it captures the attention of listeners and viewers is paramount. You’ll need interview microphones that are resistant to inconvenient pops and plosives, as well as other background noise. If you do most of your recording outdoors, you’ll also need a microphone that can record with reduced or no wind noise. Other add-ons like a windscreen or shock absorber are also important.
|Sennheiser MKH 416||• Industry standard |
• Top audio quality
• Excellent background noise rejection
|Røde Reporter||• Top-of-the-line handheld microphone|
• Rugged build and 10-year warranty
• Sleek design
|Sennheiser MD 46||• Natural and rich sound|
• Durable casing
• Low handling and wind noise
|Sennheiser MKE 600||• Neutral, natural sound great for all voices|
• Compact and portable
• Great noise rejection
|Sennheiser ClipMic||• Simple yet effective and durable build|
• MetaRecorder app allows for studio-quality recording
• Discreet and convenient
|Audio-Technica AT8004L||• Sleek and sophisticated look |
• Great background noise rejection
• Can be used wired and wireless
|Røde SmartLav+||• Lightweight and portable|
• Plug and play convenience
• Designed for smartphone use
|Audio-Technica AT897||• Line + gradient polar pattern gives great noise rejection|
• Focused and clear recordings
• Can run for up to 1200 hours on one AA battery
|Shure VP64A||• Best quality handheld microphone|
• Professional look, durable build
• Great sound
|Shure MVL||• Compact and lightweight|
• Built with Shure durability
• Good affordable lavalier mic
The Shure MVL is a lavalier microphone that’s proven its worth in terms of affordability and value. Don’t let its lightweight, compact size fool you— this microphone is built with that legendary Shure durability, so it’s able to hold up to years of frequent use both indoors and on the go.
With an eye towards versatility, the Shure MVL is designed for use with both smartphones and more advanced recording and filming equipment. This means that both amateurs and more experienced users can enjoy the perks of this lavalier mic. Plus, purchasing the MVL gives you access to Shure’s MOTIV app, which allows for editing even when you’re outside of the studio. While it might not have the most robust sound, it’s definitely a good buy if you’re looking for an affordable yet quality upgrade to your interviews.
If you’re aiming to do a broadcast or interview on camera, you’re going to need a handheld microphone. The Shure VP64A is among our top picks for a variety of reasons. First, it’s a simple yet classic and durable build that’s going to hold up both visually and mechanically over the years.
It’s easy enough for an interviewee to handle, and with an all-weather build it’s a piece of equipment that you can count on. The Shure VP64A is especially suited for multi-person interviews with its omnidirectional polar pattern. No need to shift the mic between speakers— just position it strategically, and you’ll have a quality recording in no time. And with a frequency response tailored to human speech, you can come home with audio that’s rich, lively, and detailed.
The Audio-Technica AT897 is a compact shotgun microphone that puts in a powerful performance. It’s got a line + gradient polar pattern that helps exclude unnecessary background noise, while focusing on your interviewee’s voice with precision and clarity.
This polar pattern also allows you to mic at greater distances, which is great if you’re hoping to record without a microphone onscreen. And with its fantastic noise rejection paired with a good windscreen, you can even do your interviews outside. The AT897 is affordably priced for a shotgun microphone, and can run for up to 1200 hours on a single AA battery. It’s also one mic where you don’t have to worry about sound quality— the human voice sounds crisp and detailed on this microphone.
The Røde SmartLav+ is one of the industry’s favorite lavalier microphones, and one look at its features will tell you why. Designed specifically for use with smartphones, it’s an affordable, foolproof way to get quality recordings even without fancy film equipment.
Lavalier microphones are known for their lightweight builds, and the Røde SmartLav+ follows the same lines. At only 6 grams, it’s unobtrusive on camera, allowing viewers to focus on the speaker with no problem. And with its plug and play set up, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more convenient mic. Sound-wise, it’s not the best in the industry, but it puts in a good performance with less noise floor hiss than its predecessor the Røde SmartLav, and overall its sound is crisp and clear.
Audio-Technica is a Japanese brand that’s been producing quality microphones for decades. The Audio-Technica AT8004L is a handheld microphone that’s designed for all-weather use. With a sleek, durable matte metal casing, the AT8004L has a sophisticated look that has it sounding and looking great on camera.
The Audio-Technica AT8004L has an omnidirectional polar pattern that allows it to record multi-person interviews with hardly any adjustments. It does have a wireless mode, but performs far better when connected to its XLR cable. Despite its omnidirectional polar pattern, it has excellent noise rejection, and the metal casing around the capsule is secure so you don’t have to worry about capturing sound outside the metal grille.
It’s a pretty good all-weather mic, which makes it a great choice for broadcasts and outdoor interviews.
Sennheiser is among the top in the game when it comes to film and interview microphones, and the Sennheiser ClipMic is more proof of why that is. Like many other lavalier microphones, it has a fairly simple build with the microphone head, a clip, cord, and jack, but operating it requires a bit more finesse.
The ClipMic works with the MetaRecorder App developed by Apogee. While this means that there’s a learning curve to this lavalier mic, the end result is definitely something to wait for. The MetaRecorder app gives you more recording features, allowing you to adjust the settings of your ClipMic according to your preferences. This results in sound that’s almost studio quality, without the need for extra equipment.
While the ClipMic is definitely a little pricier than other lavalier mics, it’s a great investment if you see yourself doing a lot of interviews in the future.
The Sennheiser MKE 600 is one of the top shotgun microphones in the industry. Compact and easy to carry, it’s a particularly useful equipment out in the field as it can perform both with phantom power and on AA batteries. With a supercardioid polar pattern, you can rest easy when it comes to noise rejection— this is a focused recorder that will do a top tier job.
In terms of sound, the Sennheiser MKE 600 produces a smooth, natural sound. It’s a little gentler than the Sennheiser MKH 416, and has a broad range that makes it perfect for recording most sound sources. For interviews, you can position your MKE 600 outside of the field of view of your camera and still capture your interviewees with clarity and detail. This is a professional level microphone that puts in a professional level performance.
Sennheiser’s made a name for itself when it comes to durable, quality microphones, and the Sennheiser MD 46 is another feather to add to the company’s cap. It’s built with the famed Sennheiser durability, with an all-metal body that can hold up to bumps and scratches. Initially developed for the 2000 Summer Olympics, it’s available to the market and has proven its longevity.
The Sennheiser MD 46 has a classic cardioid polar pattern that makes it perfect for use both inside and outside the studio. Its sound is rich, clear, and consistent even across different microphones. The MD 46 is designed to make live reporting, broadcasting, and interviews seamless, so you don’t have to worry about handling noise or background noise with this microphone. Overall, if you’re looking for a quality, tried and tested choice, that would be the Sennheiser MD 46.
The handheld microphone is an icon of newscasting and interviews, so it plays an important role both on and off camera. The Røde Reporter is an example of a microphone that was designed to look good and sound good on camera. Designed to look sleek, professional, and handle well out in the field, it’s the quintessential reporter’s microphone.
It’s got an omnidirectional polar pattern, making it the perfect tool for micing multiple-person interviews. The Røde Reporter also has a multi-layer mesh basket that blocks out most wind noise, without the need for a bulky, distracting windscreen. Its sound is tailored to the human voice, with recorded audio sounding natural and detailed. And at a lower limit of 70 Hz for its frequency response, you can count on the Reporter picking up great sound without getting muddied by background noise or traffic rumble.
If there’s a microphone out there that deserves the title of industry standard, it’s the Sennheiser MKH 416. The MKH 416 is used in a variety of recording situations, particularly for film and television work. What makes it so great is its incredible directionality— it’s got a supercardioid polar pattern that blocks out background noise even on a busy city street.
The reason why the Sennheiser MKH 416 tops the list is because of its reliability. It’s less sensitive to plosives, which can be a bit of a headache especially with interviewees who aren’t trained in mic etiquette. It also captures the human voice with depth and clarity, which makes it a popular, albeit somewhat expensive, option for podcasting and voiceovers as well. Overall, the MKH 416 is an industry standard for a reason, and if you want the best interview shotgun microphone this would be it.
|Image||Model Name||Sound Quality||Design||Features||Price||Total Rating||Check Price|
|Sennheiser MKH 416||9||9||8||9||8.8|
|Sennheiser MD 46||9||9||8||8||8.5|
|Sennheiser MKE 600||9||8||8||9||8.5|
The best interview microphone will depend on a number of factors. These include the kind of interview you’re doing, whether or not it’ll be filmed, how many people will be speaking, and where you’re planning to record. As a result, it’s not always easy to decide what microphone to pick.
Developing your toolkit for interviews can be pretty difficult, and indeed many professionals keep a variety of microphones in different styles onhand. Some even use different microphones simultaneously in order to best capture the sound they’re looking for. While at the end of the day it all boils down to preference, our guide above can be the first step in helping you choose your next (and best) interview mic.